Our beautiful convertible with a hood full of trophies won on the drag strip.
That small license plate
is for the New York State Thruway so you did not have to stop to pay the tolls. It cost $20 a year. Photo taken in 1962.
I was at a gas station located on a slight uphill curve when I noticed
a white car coming up the hill that looked different than most cars
of that time. I watched it come up the hill and the stance going
around the curve was like nothing I had ever seen before. The car
was beautiful and the exhaust sound was powerful, and like a passing
Harley, the sound stayed long after the car was out of sight. That
was the first time I had ever seen a Chrysler 300. It was a ‘55
300 and I have never forgotten the sight and sound. Being a teenager
that just got my driver’s license, I knew I would never be able
to have one. That day I fell in love with Chrysler 300s.
A few years later when I got out of the Air Force, my father got me a
job with him as an apprentice lineman. I lucked out and got a job
working 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. I was working so much that I
did not have time to spend my money. When the job was over, I was
driving my ‘50 Ford convertible past a Chrysler dealership in
Syracuse, New York when I saw a white Chrysler convertible on the
lot. I pulled in and saw my first 300F convertible. I bought it on
the spot. It had 1,800 miles on it in February 1961. I had never
driven any car before that felt as good as this car. It drove and
held the road like it was on rails.
That summer I drove it to Tennessee to visit my grandparents for a short
vacation. The visit lasted over three months. At a body/speed shop,
I met a guy named Jap, short for Jasper, who loved the 300 and drove
it when I let him.
One day while waiting for Jap at the body shop
where he worked,
a Tennessee state trooper drove up to where I was
sitting. He looked surprised to see me and said, “Oh, you’re
here.” He then asked if Jap had my car. I said, “Yes, he
just went to the store.” He said, “Norm, do not loan him
your car ever again.” I asked why and he said, “Because
we can’t catch him.”
Jap, in his beautiful,
reliable, dependable Chevy, his only ride.
After getting booted from
the 300 F. Photo taken 1961
Being raised in Syracuse, New York, I did not know very much about the
transportation of moonshine. The Tennessee Highway Patrol was always
stopping me in the 300F. They said I needed to change my auto and
driver’s license from New York to Tennessee. They had a law
then that made you change your residency after so long. After a stop
that threatened to put me in jail, I decided to go for the change.
The trooper was mad because I took so long finding the registration
and license. It was raining and he got very wet. He said to be at
the courthouse Monday morning or he would make me very sorry. I
changed the registration with no problem, but the clerk said I had to
take the driver test to change the driver’s license, and had to
take it with him. He pointed behind me and when I turned around,
there stood the trooper that always gave me a hard time. I looked at
him and said, “I guess I flunked this test already.” He
said, “Nah, I just wanted to go for a ride in that car.”
I held the keys out to him and said he could drive but he declined.
“Just drive around the block,” he said. I did and was
never stopped by the Tennessee State Police again. I found out later
that people that transported moonshine used cars that were a lot
faster than police cruisers and that’s why I was stopped a lot.
The trooper and I became good friends after that.
I guess Jap thought I needed a girlfriend and kept trying to fix me up
with his niece. Having seen some of Jap’s girlfriends, I
declined. One day while we were in town a ‘55 Ford came down
the street. He started yelling that his niece was in the Ford. I knew
his niece did not have a Ford, so I looked at the passenger first.
She was not good looking but the driver was beautiful. I told him
what I thought and he said his niece was driving. I slammed on the
brakes and punched reverse and backed down the street at high speed.
She saw me coming and stopped in the middle of the street. The 300F
of course, did not stop as quick and I ran into her. No damage, but I
told her she owed me a date for causing the crash.
Wife in the convertible, in 1962
Our first date was
in the 300F and we dated until I had to go back to New York to work.
I drove 18 hours one way most weekends from New York to Tennessee and
back ’til snow started to be with her. We married the next
March and enjoyed our honeymoon in the 300F. We owned the car a few
more years, but sold it to get a faster car for drag racing. The 300F
was not winning because of NHRA rule changes. We regretted selling it
but at the time we had no place for it.
We were approaching our 50th
wedding anniversary and our daughter was planning a party. She asked
us to find photos of our early years. We found photos of the 300F
convertible and wondered if it was still around. It brought back a
lot of good memories. We contacted the Chrysler 300 Club
International to try to find it. Jim K. and Gil C. were very helpful,
but no luck. A club member had a 300F coupe for sale and we bought
it. Having another 300F convertible was way beyond our means.
Driving the coupe was like 50 years of our lives disappeared.
Wife in the coupe in 2014. 52 years later.
loves the car and drives it just like she did the convertible. She
made me promise to never sell it and never race it. After purchasing
the “New 300F coupe” we drove it to a local VFW car show
and two people came up to me to tell me about a guy from New York who
had a car that looked like mine who could burn rubber for a city
block and would race anybody. I told them it was not me. It was
later I realized they were talking about my car
and Jap was the
driver. I was awed that people could remember a car from 50 years
ago. It sure was a real special car.
sister and friends. They were harder to get out of the F than Jap
Photo taken in 1962.
Our kids wondered why in the world we would buy a car like that until we
explained that we would not have met and they would not be here had
it not been for the 300F and Jap. They now support our 300F. We
enjoy going to club functions and really enjoy the great and helpful
club members and, of course, getting to see the most beautiful cars
in the world.